Yet another banking giant, Silicon Valley Bank, has collapsed stateside, heralding yet another global financial collapse according to the doomsayers, and again, uncomfortable ‘bonus payment’ revelations have emerged, drawing criticism of the moral and ethical perspectives of the sector, a critique we must all, surely, support.
Banks have always polarised opinions, but in a back-of-the-hand, intimidated manner, we have always remained respectful of their power. Henry Ford said of the banking industry that it’s as well we don’t understand how it works, “or there would be a revolution by tomorrow morning,” while Karl Marx wrote of the aristocracy of finance, loan promoters, and speculators in public funds, “that their interests coincide with those of the state power,” so we are entitled to ask why this traditionally respectable industry has fallen so far from grace.
Ever since my youth, I have been in awe of their having the gravitas almost, of a place of worship. Where we would queue silently, without complaint, not daring to even look askance, to speak only when spoken to, and then in the hushed tones of a confessional. We were intimidated by the bank’s panopticon-like supervision, and scornful disapproval. Yet, for all that obeisance and respect, what has the banking industry done for us in these most recent fifty years?
The sector, banks, finance houses, pension funds, share markets, and insurance companies continue to play fast and loose with our money! They can call it trading if they want, yet what we learned from the notorious ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ excesses of the 1980’s, the Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac ‘sub-prime’ scandals of the early 2000’s, and the current crypto-currency crisis that started just a couple of weeks ago, on March 8, with the Silvergate Bank, and now the Silicon Valley Bank, is that global finance is no more than gambling, a sophisticated shell game. “Finance, like time,” wrote Honore de Balzac, “devours its own children,” yet we are still reticent to challenge them.
Foreign exchange trading, commonly known today as Forex, is not trading. The Forex market was recently described as, “the process of speculating on currency prices to potentially make a profit.” Speculating is gambling! Share trading is trading and investing they say, “where gambling is chance, betting on a roll of the dice, the spin of a wheel, or the random order of cards.” Yes, but share trading is like a card game, but knowing which card is coming up next, so worse... rigged gambling! Insurance companies don’t invest in you, they freely admit that they are gambling against you, using social and behavioural algorithms so... gambling, and cheating!
Cryptocurrencies are the worst of all, susceptible to extreme volatility, cyber-insecurity, and the irreversible nature of its transactions, with this ultra-gullible society having been convinced that money can be made from nothing. maybe not gambling, but surely deceptive, a mirage, an illusion!
Let’s reflect upon an industry that once offered us surety, certainty, confidence, and vaults where our money was considered safe, but of late has more recently taken on as much respect and reputation as a betting shop or gambling den, to the extent that if we didn’t have that historical reverence for banks of the elder generation, we could quite rightly consider that the gambling industry has demonstrated greater proprietary, more compassion, more sense of who they are, more humility, and considerably less arrogance and avarice, than the banking industry has today.
Much of the reputational credit the banks once had, is going down the gurgler. They are robbers as much as the Kelly Gang, the Beagle Boys, Bonnie and Clyde, and Jesse James, ever were... they just don’t wear masks.
And just one thought as to the truth of banking’s talk of social responsibility and ethics today. Of the seven billion people on our Earth, it is genuine food for thought that four million do not qualify for bank loans. Reflect on that you bankers!